Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘usability’ Category

The Mouseless, Keyboardless Tablet

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With the holiday lull rapidly approaching, it’s time to visit some of those technology issues that have either been backburnered or pushed to the side in favor of more pressing tidings.

First on the agenda is the whole tablet v. laptop debate.

My take is, the whole thing’s a non-starter.  There is no debate.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like typing on a keyboard.  The real deal, physical keyboard.

Way back, it was those old clackety-clack IBM keyboards that you could hear and feel the letters being impressed.

Before that, it was my first Compaq luggable.

And before that, it was an old-timey Remington Rand portable. On those, if you didn’t hit the key with a good, committed stroke, nothing appeared on the paper.

Paper, the young whippersnappers ask?  What’s paper?

That’s the stuff we used to write to one another on before there were iPhones.

Of course, I have an iPad.  I’m an early adopter, curmudgeon though I can be.

And you’ll have to pry my cold, dead hands away from my iPad.  I love the thing.  It’s a true Renaissance device.

I use it now for a variety of things.

I play NFL Madden 11 on it (which I bought on sale for $.99 at the Apple store the other day!).  I also play Angry Birds along with the rest of Western Civilization.)

I read and respond to emails.  I surf the Interwebs.  I chat with people.

I make Skype calls on it.  I watch Netflix.  I read The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

I check and update my calendar.  I download and read PDFs.

I even use it to blog on occasion.  But typically only when my Apple wireless keyboard is nearby.

Maybe I’m too tactile for my own good.

I’ve tried using the Apple virtual keyboard (the “software”keyboard included with the iPad).  It’s fine for a quick two-line email.

It’s useless when I’m trying to write a long blog post.  My brain can’t seem to reach through my fingers into that glass surface.  The keystrokes just can’t find their way back into the blog post.

I don’t know how to explain it.  It’s a tactile thing.

I’ve also found the iPad useless for doing some of my basic everyday work, like building presentations and updating documents.

It’s not that the iPad couldn’t do it.  But when I try, I miss my mouse too much.

I find myself reaching for a mouse that’s not there, to do something on my iPad that I can’t do.

And why shouldn’t it be that way? I’ve been using a mouse for 20-something years!  It’s like an extension of my person.

And then suddenly, you want me to do real, productive work without a real keyboard and a mouse?

You might as well tell me to try and hit a 325-yard drive with my Odyssey putter!

I will say this: I recently discovered a phenomenal and simple word processing application for the iPad.

It’s called, simply, “Writer.”

It cost me $5 on the iApp store in iTunes.

In Writer, you can’t change the fonts.  You can’t do any bold or italicizing.  There are no windows or drop down menus.

You can work in one document at a time, and then save your work up into the Google Docs cloud. And it works beautifully with the Apple wireless keyboard.

It’s kind of like working back in Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS (which you’ll remember from a previous post, was my favorite software application of all time).

Because ultimately, the “Writer” application lets you focus on the one thing you need it most to do: To write.

Imagine that, a software application that lets you focus on the thing it was originally written for.

Now, if I can just keep from switching back and forth between it and Angry Birds I might actually get some real work done.

Blogger’s Note: Turbo’s taking some time off through early January to visit with friends and family, and to generally catch his breath.  He reserves the right in his holiday solace to blog as frequently or as little as his boredom and inspiration demands.

Written by turbotodd

December 22, 2010 at 3:18 pm

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